I’ve been asked recently by two people what it takes to get hired in radio, so I thought I’d post this here in case anyone has the same questions.

This is all my own opinions, and your mileage may vary. So take everything I say with a grain of salt. Also, while I may do a weekend show on KLSX 97.1 FM, I’m not employed by the station- it’s all part of the day job (which I’ll explain how it fits in later). Ready? Let’s go!

First, if you want to work in radio, there are two things to just accept as fact from the start- there is little to NO money in the radio business. If you are doing it to be rich, find another job. And secondly, be prepared to move. A lot. To shitty towns you never want to set foot in.

Now, what can you do? There are three ways to get yourself a job in radio. Number one, learn how to sell. Then go get a sales job selling advertising. No, it’s not glamorous. But it’s probably the only way to earn any real money in the business, and you can say you work for a radio station.

You probably don’t want to do that, so you can try to either work on air or behind the scenes in engineering. The way to get a job doing either? Find a small town- I don’t mean Bakersfield small, or even Topeka small, I mean Casper, Wyoming small. Look on the internet to find out what radio stations are there, send the program director a letter and resume, and tell them you are willing to work on the cheap to get experience. This will let you get your first job in radio, probably making minimum wage, and you’ll have to live in a dump of a town. Now after 6 months or so, make a tape of the best things you’ve done, either on-air or in production, and send it to program directors in slightly bigger markets. Probably now you can move up to something the size of Topeka, Kansas. Again, after 6 months to a year, make a tape and send it to program directors in bigger markets, and repeat this process until you live in a city that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself for lack of stuff to do. If you can work your way up to a major city, you’re a big success in the world of radio, even though you will likely max out your salary at a middle class level at best. Sound fun? No, I’m sure it doesn’t. And be prepared to take crappy jobs in bigger markets- you might have to move from on-air top answering phones to get moved up, but that’s just how the industry works.

There is a way to skip past all this stuff, and that is because of what stations now do with what is known as “block shows”. If you have an idea for a show, you can get it on the air in a major market. All you need to do is find a sponsor for the show yourself. See, radio stations don’t give a damn about their ratings, what’s on the air, or who’s listening for the most part. They just care about making $$$. And if you can find a sponsor, you can actually make good money in radio. You find a station willing to sell you air time (a la Poorman’s “Lovecalls” show on 1540 AM) and you pay the station anywhere between a few hundred to many thousands of dollars per hour of air time. You get your sponsors to pay you for that, and keep whatever you are able to charge above the amount you pay the station. Bingo, you now have a radio show in a major market. You can also use this to make a good tape, and probably get a regular gig down the road if you pursue one, since you have credentials from a major market station.

So how did I get on the air? The consulting firm I work for has clients in many industries. One of them places a LOT of advertising through our firm with KLSX. Because of this, we developed a relationship with the station, and they decided to put together a small business radio show and asked our firm to handle the hosting and production. I was asked to be co-host because my boss thought my personality would be a good fit. We also had a show that was a “block show” all about hair loss, because again, one of our clients is in the industry and we were asked to host a show on the subject.

So there it is- if you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments on here and I’ll reply.